Becoming an Advertising Director: Job Description & Salary Info

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Get the truth about an advertising director's salary, education requirements and career prospects. Read the job description, and see the pros and cons of becoming an advertising director.
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Pros and Cons of an Advertising Director Career

Advertising directors manage advertising staff and may supervise other departments as well, such as the creative department. Is a career as an advertising director right for you? Review the following pros and cons to find out.

Pros of an Advertising Director Career
High earning potential (2014 median salary was about $96,720)*
Play essential role in organizations*
Daily work includes a great deal of variety (multiple projects and clients)*
Required tasks often involve high levels of creativity*

Cons of an Advertising Director Career
Overtime is often required (in 2012, 20% worked 40+ hours per week)*
Strong competition is expected for jobs in advertising*
Work involves high levels of stress (tight deadlines and extreme pressure to succeed)*
Often responsible for hiring and firing advertising staff members*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Essential Career Information

Job Description and Duties

Advertising directors - also called advertising managers - follow the advertising process from the birth of an idea to the finished product, liaising with customers and colleagues along the way to make advertising projects as powerful as possible. They also use market research to measure the effectiveness of advertising and adjust their approach appropriately.

The field of advertising moves at a fast pace, and as an advertising director, you must work hard to keep up. Workweeks of more than 50 hours are common, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), which can include evenings and weekends. Occasionally, you may travel out of town to meet clients. You can expect to perform a variety of duties - from creating advertisements to negotiating contracts to hiring and firing - and the work can be stressful, since tight deadlines are common and there is constant pressure to create the best ad.

Career Prospects and Salary Info

The BLS projected an average 7% job growth for advertising and promotions managers from 2012-2022. This equates to about 2,400 expected new jobs in that time period. In May 2014, BLS data showed that advertising managers earned median salaries of about $96,720.

What Do Employers Look For?

Most jobs in this field require a bachelor's degree and several years of relevant work experience. Degrees in advertising or journalism are often preferred, according to the BLS. Programs that include classes in marketing, consumer behavior, market research, sales, communications and visual arts could be the most helpful. Internships and work experience in sales, marketing or advertising are also appealing to potential employers. Skills employers look for include analytical thinking, creativity, strong interpersonal skills, management abilities, and a penchant for decision-making under pressure.

Job Postings from Real Employers

Employers generally seek enthusiastic, flexible people with unique ideas and strong sales backgrounds for advertising director positions. Although a bachelor's degree is a common requirement, some employers prefer a graduate degree. Consider this information taken from July 2012 job postings:

  • An online job search company in California sought an advertising operations director with at least a bachelor's degree and management experience to develop and direct media planning and policy and to oversee junior staff members.
  • A Connecticut media company looked for a regional advertising director who is a sales leader and can develop, lead and motivate a team of sales managers while promoting growth strategies and analyzing market trends.
  • An investment start-up in New York posted an ad for a flexible, creative and self-motivated director of the marketing, advertising and public relations departments. The successful candidate would be responsible for customer acquisition, communication, social media campaigns, blogging, branding, online content production and other tasks.

How to Maximize Your Skills

Since an undergraduate degree is a standard requirement for advertising directors, several employers' job ads suggest earning a master's degree in business or marketing as a way to help you stand out from other candidates and potentially increase your career growth. Courses in communications, research methods, media techniques, writing skills, cultural awareness, consumer behavior and marketing methods can all contribute to your appeal as a candidate.

Since the digital world is gaining more momentum in the media industry, expert digital skills can give you an edge over the competition. Additionally, you might consider learning or mastering software programs, such as analytical programs, desktop publishing software, spreadsheets, graphic or photo imaging applications and project management programs, which are commonly used by advertising directors.

Continuing Education and Professional Certification

Once you have a position in the advertising field, continuing education can be key to maintaining your skills and advancing your career. Courses and workshops are typically offered by professional organizations, such as the American Association of Advertising Agencies, which runs the Institute of Advanced Advertising Studies, and the International Advertising Association, which offers 1- and 2-day workshops throughout the year. You could also obtain official certification, such as the American Marketing Association's Professional Certified Marketer designation, which is specifically designed to help marketing and advertising professionals stand out among their peers.

Other Careers to Consider

If you're looking for an even higher salary and faster job growth than an advertising director position, consider becoming a public relations manager. With the same education (a bachelor's degree or master's degree), you could spend your days creating and maintaining the public image of companies, nonprofit organizations, individuals or government agencies. Public relations managers often supervise others, write press releases, establish branding and handle virtually all contact with the public and media. The BLS reported in 2011 that median annual salary for public relations managers was about $93,000. Job growth between 2010 and 2020 was also predicted to be slightly faster at 16%, which equates to over 10,000 new jobs - almost double than expectations for advertising managers.

On the other hand, if the fast pace of an advertising director career is alluring, but the education requirements trouble you, consider becoming an advertising sales agent. A high school diploma is considered adequate for some entry-level advertising sales agent positions, and training usually takes place on the job. Advertising sales agents contact potential clients and build relationships by understanding needs and presenting appropriate advertising solutions. Work is generally full-time and may require irregular hours, but the BLS expected nearly 21,000 new jobs from 2010-2020; a 13% job growth rate. The reduced education requirements are most strongly reflected in the paycheck; 2011 BLS data showed that advertising sales agents earned a median annual salary of about $45,000.

Popular Schools

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    1. Johns Hopkins University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Arts in Communication
      • Master of Arts in Communication
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    2. American University

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    Master's
      • Master of Arts in Strategic Communication
      • Master of Arts in Strategic Communication - Advocacy and Social Impact Concentration
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    3. Grand Canyon University

    Program Options

    Doctorate
      • DBA with an Emphasis in Marketing
      • Bridge (Doctor of Business Administration with an Emphasis in Marketing)
    Master's
      • MBA: Marketing
      • M.A. in Communication with an Emphasis in Education
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    4. Purdue University

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    Master's
      • Master of Science in Communication
  • Campus and Online Programs
    5. The Art Institutes

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    Bachelor's
      • Advertising (BS)
      • Advertising (BA)
      • Advertising Design (D)
      • Marketing & Entertainment Management (BS)
    Associate's
      • Advertising (AS)
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    6. Colorado Technical University

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      • BS - Business Administration - Marketing
      • BS - Business Administration - Digital Marketing
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    7. Regent University

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    Master's
      • Master of Arts in Communication
      • Master of Arts in Communication - Political Communication
      • Master of Arts in Communication - Strategic Communication
      • Master of Arts in Government - Political Communication
      • Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership - Organizational Communication
      • Master of Business Administration - Marketing
    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies - Advertising and Public Relations
      • Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies
      • Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies - Organizational Communication
      • Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies - Rhetoric and Public Culture
      • Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies - Strategic Communication
      • Bachelor of Arts in English - Communication
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    8. Colorado State University Global

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • BS - Marketing
      • BS - Communication
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    9. Seton Hall University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Business Administration - Marketing
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    10. Post University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • B.S. in Marketing
      • B.S. in Marketing / International Marketing
    Associate's
      • A.S. in Marketing

Featured Schools

Johns Hopkins University

  • Master of Arts in Communication

What is your highest level of education?

American University

  • Master of Arts in Strategic Communication
  • Master of Arts in Strategic Communication - Advocacy and Social Impact Concentration

What is your highest level of education?

Grand Canyon University

  • DBA with an Emphasis in Marketing
  • Bridge (Doctor of Business Administration with an Emphasis in Marketing)
  • MBA: Marketing
  • M.A. in Communication with an Emphasis in Education

What is your highest level of education?

Purdue University

  • Master of Science in Communication

What is your highest level of education?

The Art Institutes

  • Advertising (BS)
  • Advertising (BA)
  • Advertising (AS)

What is your highest level of education?

Colorado Technical University

  • BS - Business Administration - Marketing
  • BS - Business Administration - Digital Marketing

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Regent University

  • Master of Arts in Communication
  • Master of Arts in Communication - Political Communication
  • Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies - Advertising and Public Relations
  • Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies

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Colorado State University Global

  • BS - Marketing
  • BS - Communication

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